Safety First

Sari Reis is a pet care professional and owner of Mission Valley Pet Sitting Services in San Diego, California.

As dog walkers we are all familiar with dogs that try to ingest just about everything they see that looks or smells good to them. It could be tossed out food, animal droppings, nuts or seeds, or even dead birds. When walking one dog it is simple to watch where it is sniffing and what it may be trying to eat. With 3, 4 or more dogs, it is easy to miss something and before you know it, one of the dogs is choking on something or has eaten something that could make him ill.

I have often wondered about the dog walkers that you see walking 4, 5 or 6 dogs on leash at once. What would they do in an emergency situation? If one of the dogs is in distress, possibly needs a canine Heimlich maneuver or needs to go to the emergency clinic, what do they do with the rest of the dogs?

The safety and well-being of my client’s pets have been my hallmarks for dog walking and pet sitting since starting my business. At the initial consultation I reassure my clients that I never walk more than one dog at a time unless they are in the same family, and then it is only two at a time. It is not because I cannot physically manage more dogs, but because of the possibility that if something happens to the dog, I want to be able to focus all of my attention on getting that dog whatever help it may need.

Even when being very vigilant I have had dogs pick up something they have found when sniffing under a bush that I couldn’t see. They lift up their heads and I see they are chewing on something. I have no idea what it is but I know that it is something they shouldn’t be eating. I always tell them to “drop it” and some dogs do so immediately. However, some dogs do not and then I have to try and fish it out of their mouths. This can be dangerous if the dogs aren’t completely comfortable with you so you have to be very careful. So far, I have extracted large fruit pits, poop, discarded pieces of clothing and chicken bones from dog’s mouths. All potentially dangerous if swallowed. If I had several dogs to keep an eye on, I wouldn’t be able to perform these maneuvers.

From a strictly financial point of you, I know one can make a lot more money walking several dogs in the same time slot, but I have never and will never compromise a dog’s health for the sake of making more money.